Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 02 2013

Advice Please! Retaining Students

I’m in need of any advice you might have about how to make the second year in the same grade a really effective experience for retained students. If you’ve seen anything work well, or have a great idea that you think should be tried, or saw something that doesn’t work and I shouldn’t try, I’d love to hear it. Please leave a comment here or email [email protected] .
Long story short, I’m generally not a believer in retaining middle school students and I’ve done my best to try to change my school’s current policy. My boss indulged me in debate and heard me out respectfully, but in the end we still disagree on all the key points. Of course, my boss was smart enough to say, “If you’re so concerned about this being bad for children, you’re welcome to design a plan we’ll use to support our retained kids and make…

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Jun 05 2013

Hating My Job

I should probably have mentioned that I hate my job.   It is hard. There’s a constant stream of angry middle school students in front of me, who aren’t sent to me until the situation is so dire that the teacher feels helpless. They are explosive and defiant and wildly irrational and I have to…

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May 29 2013

Evening Stroll

I am walking a hungry boy home from dinner when we see his mom on the porch across the street. She doesn’t have custody and he’s seen her very sporadically over the last year. His face lights up like he’s ten years younger and he waves his hand over his head while he yells “Mom!”…

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May 25 2013

Damp Biceps

One of my office regulars got into a very big altercation with a teacher recently that landed him in some serious trouble. He got back from his suspension while I was out for a few days, and there was no one around to sit them down and have them talk it through. Unsurprisingly, he was…

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May 01 2013

Twinkle Twinkle

A student suspended in my office today was having a reeeeeaaallllly hard time sitting and completing his assignment. He was whining incessantly about the injustice of it all, tapping his pencil, asking a million questions, constantly having to go to the bathroom, and going through long stretches of refusing to work at all.   Finally,…

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Apr 30 2013

Armed and Not Dangerous

Once upon a time, we had a pretty serious incident at school involving a knife and some police officers (and me crying in my office as I realized one of my favorites had ruined his life and I couldn’t save him, but that’s for another story). Unfortunately, it also involved me being new to my…

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Apr 17 2013


I had a parent this evening screaming at me on the phone. This isn’t exactly uncommon in my job, and it’s definitely not uncommon with this parent. She was giving me a piece of her mind, and I was staring out the window with the phone about three inches from my ear, waiting for her…

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Mar 13 2013

Fun With Confiscation

A student in my office today had a pair of white Apple headphones hanging out of his pocket. I held out my hand to confiscate them, and he unplugged them from something before passing them to me.   Obviously, I then also wanted whatever was in his pocket playing music. I held out my hand…

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Mar 12 2013

Just Kids

I’ve dealt with enough knives that I don’t mess up the photographing procedure anymore. I’ve done enough bag searches that I can tell you which stashed lunch items rot and give off the most drug-like smells. I know my district police phone number by heart and can tell you most of the officers’ names. I’ve…

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Feb 22 2013

Stress-Free and Popcorn-Full

Imagine a middle school child throwing a temper tantrum. There’s yelling, crying, running around, and lots of refusal to follow directions. Naturally, it always ends up in my office.   Today, the tantrum was coming from a girl who decided that defiance was her best course of action once she’d been sent out of class.…

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Middle School

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July 2014
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